When I first think of merch, I think of the T-shirts I'd see students wearing in high school featuring the cool band they saw at the local concert arena or the logo of the college they aspired to get into. To me, merch was something that told a little story about the person wearing it and it felt more personal than the other pieces of clothing one owned. While fashion merch has evolved a long way from then, making its way into more communities, subcultures, and aesthetics. The core of it is still there: the desire to wear and represent your favorite brand/organization/cause.
Today, it's not just about slapping a logo or image on a T-shirt. There are higher expectations set in place because when one buys a merch item, they're associating themselves with a part of that image—whether it's a message, aesthetic, or a brand. Either way, it's something they obviously want to incorporate into their dressing, so why not make it look good, too? Artists have already received the memo and got more creative with keeping their fanbase entertained with their promotional clothing, like Taylor Swift with her album themed cardigans and Justin Bieber's streetwear line, Drewhouse.
Music items aside, there's a whole group of merch to get into. From beauty to the wellness and mental health space, brands are taking note that people want to feel connected to their clothing, more than ever. If a design, image, or quote can resonate with someone on a further basis than just aesthetics, all the more reason for them to wear it.
If you're interested in the merch fashion scene and want to know what you're missing, then I've relayed some of the best options on the market right now. Keep scrolling to find one you'll be happy to add to your cart.
Aurora James, known for her brand Brother Vellies and establishing the 15% pledge—which calls on retailers to dedicate 15% of their shelves to black merchandise—designed a part of the presidential Innaguaration merch.